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A slice of cake on a peacock-themed plate
Bloom Plant Based Kitchen’s desserts are pretty and without dairy.
Barry Brechceisen/Eater Chicago

The Hottest New Restaurants in Chicago, September 2021

A pair of vegan spots, an all-day brunch restaurant, and a fine dining affair where artists take the spotlight

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Bloom Plant Based Kitchen’s desserts are pretty and without dairy.
| Barry Brechceisen/Eater Chicago

Labor Day weekend provides summer’s last hurrah and with that the Eater Chicago Heatmap earns a refresh. Six new restaurants earn recognition: A cheesy taco masterpiece in Ravenswood, a vegan chef’s new Lincoln Park restaurant, a quirky fine dining spot in Lincoln Park, a vegan virtual restaurant’s new brick and mortar, a South Asian street food pop-up in Wicker Park, and an all-day brunch spot in Tri-Taylor,

As of August 20, the city has mandated that everyone wear facial coverings while indoors. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. George's Deep Dish

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6221 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 801-1551
Visit Website

Edgewater is the home for a new spin on Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. George Bumbaris is a former coder who opened a pizzeria in the spring. He uses longer fermentation and lower oven temperatures to give the neighborhood high-quality pies that tourists would loves if they’d be willing to depart downtown for the Far North Side. The pies feature a sourdough focaccia-style crust with a caramelized cheese edge. Bumbaris says his inspiration is a Greek bread recipe, according to Steve Dolinsky. Takeout and delivery only.

2. Taco Boom Chicago

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5116 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60625

A pair of brothers have opened their first restaurant where quesabirria is the star. Beyond the Ravenswood location, there’s also a spot at 47th and Keating. Consomme with cheesy tacos is a trend that will outlast the pandemic. 

3. Diver At The Park

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3475 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 687-8972
Visit Website

The Cubs might not have many players worth rooting for this season, given the fire sale at the trade deadline, but Diver at the Park gives fans a reason to visit the old neighborhood with fun drinks, tacos, and a well designed patio. The restaurant is inside the Wheelhouse Hotel.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

4. Andros Taverna

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2542 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 365-1900
Visit Website

Andros Taverna is the answer for customers who wonder, “What if Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises opened another Greek restaurant?” Co-owner Doug Psaltis, a veteran chef who abruptly left Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, was the mastermind behind LEYE’s RPM series of restaurants, and has teamed up with the owners of popular Lincoln Park haunt Gemini. The dining room and bar are lively, and there’s a $22 plate of gyros for those who want to get decadent. What differentiates Andros is the pastry program from co-owner Hsing Chen, a decorated pastry chef who has been selling dessert boxes over the weekend. 

A large, airy restaurant dining room. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

5. Fancy Plants Kitchen

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1443 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

Kevin Schuder has yearned for a larger dance floor since he opened his Lakeview cafe in 2019. He finally found a Lincoln Park space with a full bar so he can serve all-day breakfast, creative pastries, and even a special vegan tasting menu. This opening is big news in the vegan community and gives Chicago a quality venue for elevated vegan cuisine.

Kevin Schuder outside the patio at Fancy Plants Kitchen Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

6. Esmé

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2200 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614

Esme is a welcome addition to Lincoln Park, where chef Jenner Tomaska and wife Katrina Bravo give fine dining a sorely needed overhaul. Tomaska, who worked for Next, Alinea Group’s rotating restaurant, is artfully churning out dishes like salt baked sable, salmon with spring pears in “ranch whey,” and carrot dauphine are pout of the $185 coursed-out meal. Reservations are mandatory.

Lips- Wagyu éclair, salted strawberries, pine, parsnip Esmé/Sandy Noto

7. Lardon

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2200 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 697-4444
Visit Website

This long awaited Logan Square cafe focuses on charcuterie and sandwiches. It’s been a smash hit since opening, drawing crowds morning, afternoon, and evening. The restaurant, the first joint effort from chef Christopher Thompson (Coda di Volpe) and Steve Lewis (Centennial Crafted Brewing), is a casual affair with a rustic European Old World feel. There’s a deep wine list and the cheese boards will keep guests coming back for more.

A hand holding thin-cut meat that came out of a red deli slicer.
Lardon has the meats.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

8. Bloom Plant Based Kitchen

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1559 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 363-3110
Visit Website

Former Carnivale chef Rodolfo Cuadros has seen his cooking evolve. His successful Bucktown restaurant, Amaru, continues to delight, but during the pandemic he needed new ways to make money to help his business survive. He and his family had already drastically cut their meat intake at home, and so Cuadros turned to a virtual vegan restaurant for salvation. He’s now expanded that concept into a standalone restaurant in Wicker Park with a full bar and a vegan cheese plate that’s become a crowd please.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

9. Dr. Bird's

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1215 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60642

This is the next generation of a Jamaican restaurant from Buffalo, N.Y., as the owners’ children arrived in Chicago to bring Jamaican patties and jerk chicken to a space across the street from the Polish Triangle. The restaurant has plenty of rum and Red Stripe with a chill vibe inside a well-designed space that could fill a niche in Chicago.

A colorful restaurant with tables, neon lights and more.
Dr. Bird’s is heating up the Polish Triangle.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

10. Wazwan Pop-Up

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1742 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 697-8794
Visit Website

Zubair Mohajir and his crew have been hustling for years with a food hall stall, pop-ups, and a virtual restaurant. Mohajir has worked at fine dining restaurants (like the world-famous Gaggan in Bangkok), and his applied a refined touch to South Asian street food. Find momos, burgers, fried chicken, biryani, and more at Wazwan’s latest incarnation. This is an appetizer for a more formal experience when Mohajir’s West Town restaurant, Aman, opens later this year. 

11. Adalina

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912 N State St
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 820-9000
Visit Website

This ritzy Gold Coast Italian restaurant has brought back some sorely needed energy to downtown. Chef Soo Ahn (Band of Bohemia) has created a balanced menu where there’s plenty to feast on for vegetarians and omnivores. Find handmade pastas, decadent steaks befitting a Chicago chop house, and more.

12. Jaleo

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500 N Clark St #465
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 820-7771
Visit Website

José Andrés’ hotly anticipated Chicago restaurant is heating up River North with the celebrity chef’s successful formula he debuted at the first Jaleo in D.C: traditional tapas in a casual setting. A basement bar should debut later this year.

Jaleo is open in River North.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

13. Rose Mary

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932 W Fulton St
Chicago, IL 60607
(872) 260-3921
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Joe Flamm’s dream is finally here, as the the former Spiaggia chef and Top Chef winner opened his first restaurant alongside the owners of flashy West Loop steakhouse BLVD. Flamm merges his prowess with handmade Italian pastas and Croatian techniques blending Old and New Worlds to create something unique. Reservations are recommended, because this might the most difficult table in town.

Rose Mary’s lamb shoulder.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

14. Oriole

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661 W Walnut St
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 877-5339
Visit Website

One of the country’s best fine dining restaurants, Oriole reopened in July and was quickly booked for the coming months. During the pandemic, Noah and Cara Sandoval, the chef and co-owner, transformed their two-Michelin-starred restaurant, revamping and modernizing the interiors. But the tasting menu format remains. Expect impeccable service and a come-as-you-are environment that allows diners of all backgrounds to enjoy the experience. Reservations are scarce.

An open kitchen inside a restaurant. Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

15. The Exchange

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224 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 265-0591
Visit Website

This has been one of the most anticipated restaurant openings in Chicago since pre-pandemic times. With The Exchange, DMK Restaurants aims to give Chicago something different: a Japanese-style listening bar with a state-of-the-art sound system for vinyl obsessives and a rotating menu of New American classics from Beard-nominated chef Brian Huston. The Exchange’s strategy is to lure diners who prefer eating at a bar versus a restaurant.

A dining room dimly lit, with chairs, a painting, and a draped window.
The Exchange is Chicago’s first Japanese-style listening bar.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

16. BRUNCH N BURGERS CHICAGO

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2255 W Taylor St
Chicago, IL 60612
(312) 285-2965
Visit Website

As the Trib reports, Erica McGhee is known as the Burger Queen as she shows no fear in stacking smashed beef patties with decadent toppings. Beyond burgers, customers can find stellar mac and cheese, a Sloppy Joe, and chilaquiles. McGhee is looking to expand her menu soon, so it will be cool to see how this all-day brunch spot grows.

17. Apolonia

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2201 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 363-2431
Visit Website

West Coast native Stephen Gillanders has found a home in Chicago and his Pilsen spot, S.K.Y., has emerged as one of the best restaurants in town. The former Lettuce Entertain You chef has followed that effort with Apolonia in the South Loop. It’s a radical change for Gillanders, who dives into European cuisine. The chef takes a playful approach with pastas, a giant-sized chicken Kiev, and more. This neighborhood restaurant near McCormick Place will serve locals well.

Apolonia has fresh pasta.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

18. Oooh Wee It Is Restaurant

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33 E 83rd St
Chicago, IL 60619
(872) 244-7505
Visit Website

The lines haven’t subsided in Chatham where Oooh Wee It Is opened in late February. A reluctant restaurant owner has turned to tasty soul food items like shrimp and grits and pot roast cupcakes. This is a fun space filled with cereal boxes and decorated with Marvel Comics props. There’s also a location in Burnham. Look out for upcoming outposts in Wicker Park and Beverly.

1. George's Deep Dish

6221 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60660

Edgewater is the home for a new spin on Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. George Bumbaris is a former coder who opened a pizzeria in the spring. He uses longer fermentation and lower oven temperatures to give the neighborhood high-quality pies that tourists would loves if they’d be willing to depart downtown for the Far North Side. The pies feature a sourdough focaccia-style crust with a caramelized cheese edge. Bumbaris says his inspiration is a Greek bread recipe, according to Steve Dolinsky. Takeout and delivery only.

6221 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60660

2. Taco Boom Chicago

5116 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

A pair of brothers have opened their first restaurant where quesabirria is the star. Beyond the Ravenswood location, there’s also a spot at 47th and Keating. Consomme with cheesy tacos is a trend that will outlast the pandemic. 

5116 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60625

3. Diver At The Park

3475 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

The Cubs might not have many players worth rooting for this season, given the fire sale at the trade deadline, but Diver at the Park gives fans a reason to visit the old neighborhood with fun drinks, tacos, and a well designed patio. The restaurant is inside the Wheelhouse Hotel.

3475 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60657

4. Andros Taverna

2542 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
A large, airy restaurant dining room. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Andros Taverna is the answer for customers who wonder, “What if Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises opened another Greek restaurant?” Co-owner Doug Psaltis, a veteran chef who abruptly left Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, was the mastermind behind LEYE’s RPM series of restaurants, and has teamed up with the owners of popular Lincoln Park haunt Gemini. The dining room and bar are lively, and there’s a $22 plate of gyros for those who want to get decadent. What differentiates Andros is the pastry program from co-owner Hsing Chen, a decorated pastry chef who has been selling dessert boxes over the weekend. 

2542 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

5. Fancy Plants Kitchen

1443 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
Kevin Schuder outside the patio at Fancy Plants Kitchen Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Kevin Schuder has yearned for a larger dance floor since he opened his Lakeview cafe in 2019. He finally found a Lincoln Park space with a full bar so he can serve all-day breakfast, creative pastries, and even a special vegan tasting menu. This opening is big news in the vegan community and gives Chicago a quality venue for elevated vegan cuisine.

1443 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

6. Esmé

2200 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614
Lips- Wagyu éclair, salted strawberries, pine, parsnip Esmé/Sandy Noto

Esme is a welcome addition to Lincoln Park, where chef Jenner Tomaska and wife Katrina Bravo give fine dining a sorely needed overhaul. Tomaska, who worked for Next, Alinea Group’s rotating restaurant, is artfully churning out dishes like salt baked sable, salmon with spring pears in “ranch whey,” and carrot dauphine are pout of the $185 coursed-out meal. Reservations are mandatory.

2200 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614

7. Lardon

2200 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
A hand holding thin-cut meat that came out of a red deli slicer.
Lardon has the meats.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

This long awaited Logan Square cafe focuses on charcuterie and sandwiches. It’s been a smash hit since opening, drawing crowds morning, afternoon, and evening. The restaurant, the first joint effort from chef Christopher Thompson (Coda di Volpe) and Steve Lewis (Centennial Crafted Brewing), is a casual affair with a rustic European Old World feel. There’s a deep wine list and the cheese boards will keep guests coming back for more.

2200 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

8. Bloom Plant Based Kitchen

1559 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Former Carnivale chef Rodolfo Cuadros has seen his cooking evolve. His successful Bucktown restaurant, Amaru, continues to delight, but during the pandemic he needed new ways to make money to help his business survive. He and his family had already drastically cut their meat intake at home, and so Cuadros turned to a virtual vegan restaurant for salvation. He’s now expanded that concept into a standalone restaurant in Wicker Park with a full bar and a vegan cheese plate that’s become a crowd please.

1559 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

9. Dr. Bird's

1215 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642
A colorful restaurant with tables, neon lights and more.
Dr. Bird’s is heating up the Polish Triangle.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

This is the next generation of a Jamaican restaurant from Buffalo, N.Y., as the owners’ children arrived in Chicago to bring Jamaican patties and jerk chicken to a space across the street from the Polish Triangle. The restaurant has plenty of rum and Red Stripe with a chill vibe inside a well-designed space that could fill a niche in Chicago.

1215 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60642

10. Wazwan Pop-Up

1742 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622

Zubair Mohajir and his crew have been hustling for years with a food hall stall, pop-ups, and a virtual restaurant. Mohajir has worked at fine dining restaurants (like the world-famous Gaggan in Bangkok), and his applied a refined touch to South Asian street food. Find momos, burgers, fried chicken, biryani, and more at Wazwan’s latest incarnation. This is an appetizer for a more formal experience when Mohajir’s West Town restaurant, Aman, opens later this year. 

1742 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622

11. Adalina

912 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610

This ritzy Gold Coast Italian restaurant has brought back some sorely needed energy to downtown. Chef Soo Ahn (Band of Bohemia) has created a balanced menu where there’s plenty to feast on for vegetarians and omnivores. Find handmade pastas, decadent steaks befitting a Chicago chop house, and more.

912 N State St
Chicago, IL 60610

12. Jaleo

500 N Clark St #465, Chicago, IL 60654
Jaleo is open in River North.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

José Andrés’ hotly anticipated Chicago restaurant is heating up River North with the celebrity chef’s successful formula he debuted at the first Jaleo in D.C: traditional tapas in a casual setting. A basement bar should debut later this year.

500 N Clark St #465
Chicago, IL 60654

13. Rose Mary

932 W Fulton St, Chicago, IL 60607
Rose Mary’s lamb shoulder.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Joe Flamm’s dream is finally here, as the the former Spiaggia chef and Top Chef winner opened his first restaurant alongside the owners of flashy West Loop steakhouse BLVD. Flamm merges his prowess with handmade Italian pastas and Croatian techniques blending Old and New Worlds to create something unique. Reservations are recommended, because this might the most difficult table in town.

932 W Fulton St
Chicago, IL 60607

14. Oriole

661 W Walnut St, Chicago, IL 60661
An open kitchen inside a restaurant. Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

One of the country’s best fine dining restaurants, Oriole reopened in July and was quickly booked for the coming months. During the pandemic, Noah and Cara Sandoval, the chef and co-owner, transformed their two-Michelin-starred restaurant, revamping and modernizing the interiors. But the tasting menu format remains. Expect impeccable service and a come-as-you-are environment that allows diners of all backgrounds to enjoy the experience. Reservations are scarce.

661 W Walnut St
Chicago, IL 60661

15. The Exchange

224 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60604
A dining room dimly lit, with chairs, a painting, and a draped window.
The Exchange is Chicago’s first Japanese-style listening bar.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

This has been one of the most anticipated restaurant openings in Chicago since pre-pandemic times. With The Exchange, DMK Restaurants aims to give Chicago something different: a Japanese-style listening bar with a state-of-the-art sound system for vinyl obsessives and a rotating menu of New American classics from Beard-nominated chef Brian Huston. The Exchange’s strategy is to lure diners who prefer eating at a bar versus a restaurant.

224 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60604

Related Maps

16. BRUNCH N BURGERS CHICAGO

2255 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60612

As the Trib reports, Erica McGhee is known as the Burger Queen as she shows no fear in stacking smashed beef patties with decadent toppings. Beyond burgers, customers can find stellar mac and cheese, a Sloppy Joe, and chilaquiles. McGhee is looking to expand her menu soon, so it will be cool to see how this all-day brunch spot grows.

2255 W Taylor St
Chicago, IL 60612

17. Apolonia

2201 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60616
Apolonia has fresh pasta.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

West Coast native Stephen Gillanders has found a home in Chicago and his Pilsen spot, S.K.Y., has emerged as one of the best restaurants in town. The former Lettuce Entertain You chef has followed that effort with Apolonia in the South Loop. It’s a radical change for Gillanders, who dives into European cuisine. The chef takes a playful approach with pastas, a giant-sized chicken Kiev, and more. This neighborhood restaurant near McCormick Place will serve locals well.

2201 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60616

18. Oooh Wee It Is Restaurant

33 E 83rd St, Chicago, IL 60619

The lines haven’t subsided in Chatham where Oooh Wee It Is opened in late February. A reluctant restaurant owner has turned to tasty soul food items like shrimp and grits and pot roast cupcakes. This is a fun space filled with cereal boxes and decorated with Marvel Comics props. There’s also a location in Burnham. Look out for upcoming outposts in Wicker Park and Beverly.

33 E 83rd St
Chicago, IL 60619

Related Maps